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Why Imo charter of equity law is utopian

Uzodimma turns adhoc pastor

The Imo State Council of Elders led by a traditional ruler who is also the Obi of Obinugwu, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, had sometime last year, formulated and presented a document which the Council tagged as “Imo Charter of Equity” to the governor of the state, Sen. Hope Uzodimma. The leitmotif of the document is all about the rotation of the governorship seat among the three senatorial districts of the state.

The document, which apparently became an executive bill, was sent to the state House of Assembly. It has been reportedly passed into law as one of the laws of the state. I have not had the privilege of going through the document to understand when the “charter of equity law” is supposed to take effect.

However it has been widely reported that framers of the “Charter of Equity Law” had designed it in such a manner that the incumbent Governor Uzodimma should be allowed to have a second term. When he finishes his tenure in 2027, the seat should shift to the Owerri zone for its own eight years.

After Owerri zone, it should shift to Okigwe zone for another eight years. The framers of the law apparently meant well for the state. They desired for a just, fair and equitable state where one zone should not dominate others in producing the governor.

Rotation of the governorship seat is justifiable but the credibility of the candidates and the constitution of Nigeria take precedence over the Charter

The state has 27 LGAs. Whereas Orlu zone has 12 LGAs, Owerri and Okigwe zones have nine and six LGAs respectively. Since the advent of the Fourth Republic civilian rule, Orlu zone has dominated the seat with a lion’s share of 20 years by the end of the first term of the current administration. Therefore, it’s equitable, fair and just that the seat should move to another zone by the end of Uzodimma’s current administration.

However, Uzodimma is entitled to aspire for a second term even if the Orlu zone has ruled the state for a century. The Constitution of Nigeria, grants him that right. His constitutional right cannot be circumscribed on the basis of his zone dominating the governance of the state by previous occupants of the seat. He’s constitutionally eligible to consummate his maximum term. It’s left for the electorate to decide whether he’s qualified for the second term or not.

The same Constitution of Nigeria grants every eligible adult the right to aspire for the governorship seat of the state. The Constitution supersedes or takes precedence over any state law including the Imo Charter of Equity. There can never be anytime in the life of the state when all the political parties will field governorship candidates from one zone of the state in compliance with the so-called Imo Charter of Equity. It has never happened since the creation of the state. The Imo Charter of Equity may have the impression that all the strong political parties should field their candidates from one zone that’s supposed to produce the governor. Is that feasible?

The Charter of Equity Law came into effect before the primaries of the political parties for the forthcoming November gubernatorial poll, why didn’t all the other political parties field their candidates from Orlu zone so that Owerri zone will take its turn since the framers had the intention of the law start with Uzodimma? Why did the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) field candidates from different zones? Were there even governorship aspirants from the PDP and the LP from Orlu zone before the primaries? Does it mean that Uzodimma should have contested the November governorship election unchallenged if the PDP and LP fielded no candidates in compliance with the Charter of Equity Law? Should a second term mandate be automatic even to a non- performing governor in compliance with the Imo Charter of Equity Law for him to complete the eight years allocated to his zone so that the seat should move to another zone?

Assume that Uzodimma gets a second term, and hands over to Owerri zone governor, does it mean that the Owerri Zone governor has an automatic eight-year tenure whether he performs or not since he hails from Owerri zone? What if an Owerri zone governor is booted out after one term of four years and another Owerri zone governor succeeds him, should his successor’s inalienable right of two terms of eight years be circumscribed or limited to a term of four years since his predecessor from the same zone has taken the first years allotted to the zone?

This writer is from the Orlu zone and I would want the seat to shift to another zone in the spirit of fairness and equity. My zone has had a very dominant share of the governorship of the state. Nevertheless, nothing stops me from expressing my desire to govern the state if I have the wherewithal to govern the state. My own ambition can never be sacrificed on the altar of my Orlu zone having produced more governors than the other zones.

The Imo Charter of Equity Law was made with every sense of altruism but I am sorry to say that it’s utopian in nature. Rotation of the governorship seat is justifiable but the credibility of the candidates and the constitution of Nigeria take precedence over the Charter. A very popular and credible candidate will always win the election regardless of his zone.

What if Uzodimma didn’t contest the 2019 governorship poll and Uche Nwosu was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) backed by both the federal and state might? If that had happened Emeka Ihedioha wouldn’t have tasted the position for almost eight months. Those talking about the charter of equity today would have been ruled by the Rochas Okorocha dynasty till only God knows when.

Maduako, writes from Owerri via [email protected]